A lipoma is a benign tumor made of fat tissue. They are generally soft to the touch, movable, and painless. They usually occur just under the skin, but occasionally may be deeper. Most are less than 5 cm in size. Common locations include the upper back, shoulders, and abdomen. A few people have several lipomas. The cause is generally unclear. Risk factors include family history, obesity, and lack of exercise. Diagnosis is typically based on a physical exam. Occasionally medical imaging or tissue biopsy is used to confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment is typically by observation or surgical removal. Rarely, the condition may recur the following removal, but this can generally be managed with repeat surgery. They are not generally associated with the future risk of cancer. About 2% of people are affected. Lipomas typically occur in adults between 40 and 60 years of age. Males are more often affected than females.
Symptoms of Lipoma
Lipomas can occur anywhere in the body. They are typical:
- Situated just under the skin. They are most commonly located in the neck, upper arms, thighs, forearms, but they can also occur in other areas such as the stomach and back.
- Soft and doughy to the touch. They also move easily with slight finger pressure.
- Generally small. Lipomas are typically less than 2 inches (5 centimeters) in diameter, but they can grow.
- Sometimes painful. Lipomas can be painful if they grow and press on nearby nerves or if they contain many blood vessels. A lipoma is only painful if it compresses nerves underneath the skin. A variant known as angiolipoma is also more often painful than regular lipomas. You should call your healthcare provider if you notice any changes in your skin. Lipomas can look very similar to rare cancer called a liposarcoma.